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Space entrepreneur Clements speaking at public library

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By John Singleton

 

The Nelson County Public Library has been celebrating space this summer as part of its “A Universe of Stories” theme for the summer reading program. On Tuesday at 6 p.m., a Bardstown native, Twyman Clements, will be sharing his story with the community, including how his company is working with the International Space Station.

“Twyman’s story is inspiring,” said Holly Lawrence, the teen services librarian. “It will be incredible for people to hear what he has accomplished.”

Clements is originally from Bardstown, but studied mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky, which provided a jump start to his current career. Clements is the co-founder of the Lexington-based Space Tango, an aerospace company that facilitates microgravity research and manufacturing. The company has developed small labs that are being used on the International Space Station. 

Space Tango was founded just five years ago, but Clements’ work has already earned him state and national recognition. He has been recognized by the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and was also ranked No. 25 on Fast Company’s list of 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2018.

Prior to Space Tango, Clements served as a senior space system engineer at Kentucky Space, where he worked with private and public organizations and universities to design high altitude balloons and other ISS hardware. It was also at Kentucky Space, when Clements was a graduate student, that he first partnered with Kris Kimel, who was the CEO of Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation at the time. The two worked together to “understand and simplify the complexities of ISS-based research to become leaders in a ‘new frontier,’” according to Space Tango’s website. Kimel is the co-founder and chair of Space Tango, and the duo created the company in 2014 as a “commercial spinoff” of Kentucky Space. 

Located in the heart of Lexington, Space Tango streamlines the process of designing, integrating and operating experiments in microgravity to develop new products that could improve life on Earth, according to the website. The company serves a diverse client base, including educational institutions and partners, Fortune 500 companies and research foundations. 

Clements and Kimel believe the microgravity environment offers opportunity for discovery and innovation, and the next breakthroughs in healthcare and technology could occur in Earth’s orbit. 

In his Most Creative People profile for Fast Company, Clements was described as a “pioneer in the space-as-a-service industry.” In 2016 and 2017, Space Tango installed two small TangoLabs aboard the ISS, each of which has the capability to contain up to 21 independent labs running independent experiments and streaming data back to Earth. 

According to the Fast Company report, Space Tango launched 30 tests for clients in 2017 and anticipated to send another 30 last year. Among Space Tango’s early clients was Budweiser, which was experimenting with growing barley in space.

The work done by Space Tango in the last few years is important in showing the value space has to businesses and research. Clements and Kimel are determined to prove that value over the next several years, and the possibilities are grand. 

“Research is a constant source of revenue,” Clements told Fast Company. “But we’ll really be successful when we take raw materials up, add value and bring a new product back.” 

Those interested in hearing Clements speak directly about his work with Space Tango can do so by attending the presentation at the main branch of the Nelson County Public Library at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The presentation is free to attend and open to all ages. 

For additional information on Space Tango, visit spacetango.com.